I smell danger.
The prime minister is going all out campaigning for state funding for political parties.
In January, the prime minister informed the business community in Phuensholing that both the political parties were facing severe financial difficulties. Referring to the Parliament’s decision not to provide state financing for political parties, the prime minister complained that:
We asked for financial support but, there was so much criticism about it being unconstitutional, we withdrew the plea … whatever the government had done so far is in accordance with the Constitution.
Shortly afterwards, in Gelephu, the prime minister told the community there that DPT needed state funds to run their offices. He explained that the reason the parliament could render state funding for political parties as unconstitutional, was because:
… although the DPT government outnumbered the opposition, they [the government] retreated.
Earlier this month, in Thimphu, at the annual dzongdag conference, the PM argued that he had not seen any rules in the Constitution that specifically prohibit state funding for political parties. And he threatened that, if funds were not made available for his party:
we might have to compromise sincerity and not serve the people anymore. We might even have to sell the party
And, the day before yesterday, in a press conference, he insisted that only state funding could rescue the political parties. He called for a “liberal interpretation” of the Constitution arguing that:
while there is no specific provision in the constitution to allow state funding and political parties, there is no provision prohibiting state funding either.
The PM continues to insist for state funding, in spite of the fact that the National Assembly had decided against it. And in spite of the speaker suggesting that the Constitution would first have to be amended, if the legislature wanted to discuss state financing for political parties.
Why do I smell danger? Because I am becoming increasingly convinced that, constitutional or not, the government plans to bulldoze state funding for parties in the next session of the Parliament.
Would they really do that?
In fact, that’s exactly what the government did with the CDG. The Parliament hadn’t reached a resolution on the CDG. The National Council had called it unconstitutional, faulty, and ambiguous. And they had submitted the matter to His Majesty the King.
Yet the government passed the CDG. And they did so without even discussing it the National Assembly. Instead, the CDG was discretely incorporated in the annual budget.
I smell danger.